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Freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds hold numerous species that make excellent table fare. Freshwater fish are cooked using a variety of techniques including frying, baking, broiling and grilling. Always check local regulations regarding specific size requirements and seasons before keeping any fish you catch.
Several species of trout including rainbow, brown, brook, cutthroat and lake trout are highly sought after by anglers. Trout carry a moderately strong fish flavour with larger specimens being more pungent. They are often prepared whole with the skin on and require relatively little seasoning. Trout are delicious cooked on the grill with a little salt, pepper and lemon.
Salmon grow larger than their trout cousins and are prized for their succulent meat. Each year fishermen flock to the water to catch salmon as they migrate toward their spawning grounds. Smoking salmon is an old tradition dating back to Native American roots. Smoked salmon is often enjoyed alone but is also popular when made into a pate. Fresh salmon is delicious when grilled, broiled or baked and is also a popular item on many sushi menus.
Pike are known for their voracious appetites and readily attack almost any offering. They yield a flaky white meat with a delicate flavour. Many anglers prefer pike when taken from cold water as they tend to have a firmer texture in the winter months although some fishermen avoid keeping these fish because they are thought to be bony and difficult to clean. "Y" bones, also referred to as "pin" bones, run through the mid section of the fish, but are not difficult to remove. Some anglers prefer to grind the fillets with the bones intact. The ground fillets are then mixed with seasonings and breadcrumbs and formed into fish patties. The small pieces of bone soften and dissolve during the cooking process.
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Walleye, a member of the pike family, can grow to sizes exceeding 4.54 Kilogram. Like trout, larger walleye tend to have a strong flavour. They are a prized catch among fishermen and considered one of the best eating freshwater game fish. It's hard to beat deep fried walleye fillets, although they are also delicious baked or broiled. Walleye have a small pocket of meat along their cheek that is prized by many anglers. The texture of the cheek is similar to that of scallops.
Panfish, such as bluegills, sunfish, perch and crappie, are known for their delicate, flaky white meat. They all have a similar mild taste, although there are subtle differences in texture between the different species. Beer battered panfish fillets served with tartare sauce and a lemon wedge are a welcomed treat for many fish enthusiasts. They may be smaller than some of the other freshwater species, but panish are well worth the effort when dinner time arrives.
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